The All Liberian Party is deeply disturbed by a published report from Global Witness alleging corruption and betrayal of the public trust by high-level officials of the Liberian Government. The Report also alleges interference in Liberia’s electoral process by Sable Mining, a UK domiciled mining company. According to the Report, The Deceivers, Global Witness alleges that bribes totaling 950 thousand United States dollars were paid to senior officials of the Liberian government in the executive and legislative branches through the law firm of Varney Sherman, Chairman of the Unity Party (UP) with the expressed purpose of changing Liberian laws and in one stance, monies were paid to finance the party’s convention in 2011. The Report also alleges that a bribe was paid to a high ranking UP official to give up an elected position.
These allegations are grave and unsettling. Corruption undermines the very fabric of our society and has been responsible for more than a century and a half of limited socioeconomic development in Africa’s oldest Republic. Over the last 13 years of our postwar democratic dispensation, Liberia has been at the top of the list of most corrupt countries in the world, based upon the perception of our citizens. Corruption in Liberia is more than perception. It has become a way of life in the country and it is manifested in the cynicism and distrust Liberians have of their government. If we allow the cynicism and distrust to fester, it could undermine the social fabric and obstruct the peace we now enjoy.
The ALP acknowledges and thanks President Ellen Johnson for the creation of a Task Force headed by newly confirmed Minister of State without Portfolio, Counselor Jonathan Fonati Koffa to investigate the allegations, but with deep reservations. Our reservations are based upon the scope of the investigation that grants the Task Force the mandate to investigate the allegations in the Global Witness Report and also mandates the investigation and resolution of past and current GAC reports. We believe that a special purpose Task Force should have a narrower focus and should not overshadow institutions that are designed to pursue allegations of official corruption, such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). The ALP believes that the Presidential Task Force should concentrate solely on the grave allegations contained in the Global Witness Report and not infringe on the prerogatives of the LACC and the Ministry of Justice.
The ALP is also deeply concerned that as in the past, recommendations from reports of special committees created to investigate official wrong doing were routinely ignored, thereby undermining public trust in the government. As the gravity of the allegations in the Global Witness Report have international implications and can further make the fight against corruption seem unwinnable, the ALP demands that the Presidential Task Force expeditiously carry out its mandate and report to the Liberian people as soon as practicable.
We urge the President of Liberia to be more vigilant and resolute in dealing with such grave allegations as compared to other reports in the past, and to commit critical resources to get to the bottom of these very serious charges. The Report from Global Witness and the allegations contained therein if corroborated are potentially destabilizing as not only were officials engaged in corruption but outside influences and funds were used by the ruling Unity Party during the controversial 2011 elections.
Rev. David G.B Kiamu
Secretary General ALP